'Great Britain is that monarcy sublime,
To which some add (but other so not) Ireland.'
— W.S. Gilbert; Utopia, Ltd.
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The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or the UK lies off the northwestern coast of continental Europe. It is sometimes referred to as England, although that is only one of the four countries that make up the union. Technically speaking, the term Great Britain only refers to the three countries of England, Scotland and Wales on the main island.
Although the three countries of Great Britain and Ireland had been loosely united under the English crown for many years, they retained independent governments until the Acts of Union in 1707 formally united England and Scotland. With the Acts of Union of 1801, Ireland was formally incorporated into the kingdom and the name "United Kingdom" became official. Later, in the early 20th Century, Ireland regained its independence, but the northeastern counties of it remained a part of the UK. For many years there has also been a strong independence movement in Scotland and in 2014 the country plans to hold a referendum on Scotland's future in the UK.
Countries of the United Kingdom
- Northern Ireland
- Channel Islands — not part of the UK, but depedencies under the British Crown.
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